Hollywood seems to be the most beautiful, untouchable entity in the world. In recent months, with the overwhelming amount of sexual assault allegations coming to light, this picturesque vision of Hollywood has been tarnished.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal erupted after actress and activist Rose McGowan accused Harvey Weinstein of repeated sexual misconduct and rape in October 2017. This sparked a chain reaction of women across the globe speaking up about their own experiences with sexual assault, leading to the #MeToo movement, originally founded by Tarana Burke in 2006, to enter the national spotlight. As a result, over 100 prominent actors such as Kevin Spacey, James Franco, Ben Affleck, and more have been exposed, with some such as Spacey and Weinstein being cast out of Hollywood and shunned by their fellow members of the showbiz industry.
As a response to these recent events, the Time’s Up movement was created as a way to take action against sexual assault and to show solidarity with its victims. While I believe the movement is a positive reaction to what has been lurking in Hollywood and in all areas of work, I firmly believe that many Hollywood A-listers care more about their appearance of solidarity than their actual fight against the widespread problem.
At this year’s Golden Globe Awards, stars walked around donning black as if to prove to the world that they are not and never were a part of the problem. Grinning from ear to ear, they were interviewed about the “heaviness” of the night and simultaneously their own nominations. Acceptance speeches were laced with cries of ‘speaking your truth,’ women standing up for each other, and the condemnation of people in Hollywood who have taken advantage of the innocent. As viewers, we are so eager to take these words, these feelings, as law.
Noticeably absent from any speech or interview was the mention of Rose McGowan, who’s accusations against Weinstein helped bring the problem of sexual assault into the public eye. Taking to Twitter, she wrote, “not one of those fancy people wearing black to honor our rapes would have lifted a finger had it not been so” in reference to her speaking out against Weinstein. In addition, actress Asia Argento, along with other victims such as child actor Corey Feldman, asked each other if they were even invited to the awards show, with them concluding that they, along with other victims such as Mira Sorvino and Daryl Hannah, were not. Argento also noted that she supported the Time’s Up movement, but that no one had asked her opinion about it nor did they ask her to sign the letter.
During the ceremony, Natalie Portman announced, “Here are the all male nominees,” and garnered a showering of applause, both from those in the room with her and from the people watching at home. Oprah Winfrey delivered a powerful speech. Someone’s favorite male actor wore a black suit (as if they would wear anything else) and he is instantly categorized as “woke.”
We are too forgiving to those in Hollywood; we are too ready to forget. The history of our favorite stars is often striking and unsettling, but should not be left without recognition. In 2009, Natalie Portman, along with more than 100 other celebrities, signed a petition to free director Roman Polanski, who had been jailed for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl.
However, he was awarded an Oscar in 2003, in which Meryl Streep, the same person who once called Weinstein a “god,” gave him a standing ovation. Even Whoopi Goldberg claimed that what he did wasn’t “rape-rape,” whatever that means.
Any actor or actress that continues to work with Woody Allen, who has been accused of molesting his daughter Dylan Farrow, and who was sexually involved with Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, now his wife, Soon-Yi Previn, are hypocrites. While Hollywood stars such as Selena Gomez and Justin Timberlake voice their support of the Time’s Up movement, they are simultaneously working on Allen’s new film, which is allegedly about an under-age relationship.
How can these people, the same people that work with Woody Allen, the same people that don’t even mention Rose McGowan in their lavish speeches against sexual assault, the same people that wined and dined with Weinstein (including Oprah), the same people that stayed silent all these years, still act as if they are not players in this terrible game? They wear black like it is a get-out-of-jail free card. They speak as if they are scared of getting caught.
Nobody from Hollywood would care, nor would they pay any attention to the cries of so many victims if the initial allegations did not gain the traction that they did. Men in Hollywood have been accused of sexual misconduct and rape for decades, and their co-stars and castmates have been letting it slide as each year passes. Just last year, Casey Affleck, who had been accused of sexual harassment by producer Amanda White and cinematographer Magdalena Gorka, won the Oscar for best actor. Even at this year’s Golden Globes, James Franco won for best actor, in light of the sexual misconduct allegations against him. Franco has not received an Oscar nomination, although it is quite likely that if the allegations against him did not gain as much coverage as they did, he would be receiving his first Oscar sometime soon. Hollywood does not care until their viewers care, until the news cares, until there is mass outrage and upset. For Hollywood, it has always been about keeping up appearances, and this is no different.
As the #MeToo movement spreads fervently around the globe, we need to do our part in holding abusers accountable for their actions. Members of Hollywood seem to slip through the cracks of responsibility and blame because they are the what the world cherishes and loves. We do not want to see our heroes of the silver screen as tainted abusers. We choose to act alongside them, as do others in Hollywood. The value the world gives to institutions such as Hollywood depends solely on the verity of its stars and those working behind the scenes. We need to collectively draw the curtain on abuse, and terminate the praise given to those who grossly call themselves supporters of the movement, when they have contributed to or enabled it themselves.
Illustration by Sam Lindenfeld